Location: Groundhog Mountain, Virginia

After spending most of my life working in Food and Beverage I've retired with my wife to the mountains of Southwest Virginia.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I am not far from Mt. Airy, North Carolina. If I fell off Groundhog Mountain I would probably land in the outskirts. I am also not far from Mayberry, the town made famous by Mt. Airey's favorite son, Andy Griffith.
Only the town of Mayberry doesn't exist any more except in re-runs. All that is left, run by some real mountain folk, is the Mayberry Trading Post, a quaint barnlike structure along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mayberry Creek. Among the homemade jams and jellies they sell is the "Aunt Bea Cookbook" , as well as several on Andy, and other assorted Mayberry literature. There once was a post office, a sawmill and several other businesses but they're gone like so much that was once here.

We take Orchard Gap Road to Mt. Airy a lot. Orchard Gap drops down the mountain with great vistas and hairpin turns which my Toyota Celica loves. On the way we might stop at Leverings Orchard for a bushel of peaches ($8.00) or some apples (about the same price ) depending on what's in season. The air temperature goes up about five degrees and we know we've left the mountain

Mt. Airy has a Walmart. It also has a historical district with Barnies Cafe, Opies Candy Store, Snappy Lunch where people line up to get the pork chop sandwich and my favorite, Floyd's Barber Shop where the old timers sit in the chairs against the wall and discuss their golf game and the Elks Lodge. Floyd's gives the best seven dollar haircut on the planet: scissors, hot lather, straight razor, after shave and then talc. All the while one is engaged by the local art form, conversation.

Since the real Mayberry doesn't exist any more, Mt Airy has taken it's place. You see Andy everywhere. Why you can even stay at his boyhood home which is now a B & B. In August each year there is the Mayberry Festival. Stars from the show are there and until his recent joining of the other ghosts from Mayberry, Ernest T. was there every year. He was, it seems, one of the most popular which is something considering he only appeared in five episodes.

This is the land of festivals and concerts with something going on in some small town almost every weekend. There is much to celebrate. It is unquestionably the Bluegrass and mountain music capitol of the world. Mt. Airy has their concert on Saturday mornings. Where? That's right, The Andy Griffith Playhouse.